Edited by John B. Davis and D. Wade Hands
Anna Alexandrova and Daniel M. Haybron1 5.1 INTRODUCTION2 Happiness is returning to economics. Not long ago, such a proposition might have seemed no more plausible than the canned food Homer Simpson once retrieved from his kitchen cupboard: ‘Nuts and Gum: Together at Last!’ No doubt the combination of economics and happiness remains nuts and gum to some economists. Yet happiness is, indeed, returning to economics after a long hiatus. The literature on economics and happiness is fast-growing and includes a number of leading economists, Nobel laureates among them. One of the pioneers in this venture, Swiss economist Bruno Frey, has gone so far as to title a recent book, Happiness: A Revolution in Economics (2008). Revolution or no, change is afoot, and the incursions of research on the psychology of well-being into economics are bringing new values and methods into the fold. This research is wide-ranging, covering not just happiness but also the study of human judgment and choice processes in behavioral economics and allied fields, which bears on individuals’ ability to pursue their interests effectively. Because all of this work concerns the psychology of well-being, or what philosophers call prudential value, we will place it under the common rubric of prudential psychology (Haybron, 2008). It remains to be seen how far the discipline will be changed by these developments, but they seem to us to promise an economics that is at once messier and yet more faithful to the realities of human life. Less exact, but higher fidelity....
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